Find out more about TEDx talks and how to apply to speak at TEDxWandsworth 2017 from our FAQs, below.

 1. What is a TEDx talk?

A TEDx talk has a powerful idea at its core – an ‘idea worth spreading’.

The most successful TEDx talks are more than just a lecture, which delivers facts alone. A TEDx talk is centred around one, powerful idea that is supported by facts. It doesn’t have to be a scientific breakthrough, a genius invention, or a complex legal theory. It can be a simple how-to. Or a human insight illustrated with the power of a story. Or a beautiful image that has meaning. Or perhaps just a reminder of what matters most in life. An idea is anything that can change how people see the world.

At our TEDxWandsworth event, TED Talk videos and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.

Whilst TEDx talks are influenced by TED talks, TED and TEDx are not quite the same. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organised, staffed and funded by volunteers within our community. The ‘x’ in ‘TEDx’ stands for “independently organised events” and TEDxWandsworth is no different.


2. What should my TEDx talk be about?

TEDx talks cover a vast array of topics across a variety of areas. If you’ve identified a unique issue that you are passionate about, the TEDx platform can be a great place to share it.

Perhaps you have identified a challenge or problem that is important to you. The difference between a speech on this subject and a TEDx talk is that TEDx speakers present the issue then offer a solution. This ability to both identify and solve the problem is what makes TEDx speakers so unique.

The best TEDx talks offer listeners something practical, or a new perspective that the audience can adopt in their own lives. The ideas that resonate for you are likely to do the same with others.

Your talk should be original, unique and engaging for your audience. This is a chance to present an idea or issue that has never been discussed before.


3. Can I talk from my own experience?

Your own story can provide an excellent basis for your talk as you will have unique insight and be passionate about your subject, both of which are vital components of a TEDx talk.

However, after many years and thousands of TED and TEDx talks, we know that simply sharing your biography does not make a successful TEDx talk, even though your story is undoubtedly fascinating. This is a challenge faced by numerous TEDx speakers. Some talks end up being what you might call “stories of self,” which offer compelling anecdotes from a person’s life but no central idea that wraps the narrative together. These are heart-breaking, because they’re often wonderful, fascinating, popular talks that offer interesting commentary on local culture. But without the wrap-around of an idea, they’re just stories, or biographical sketches. They aren’t idea-centered talks.

Rather than simply relaying your experience, think about how you might use it as a link to an overall theme.


4. What makes a good TEDx talk?

The common perception is that only the most inspiring, animated individuals give the best TEDx talks. In fact, it is not the person we are searching for but the person’s idea or innovation.

This is a great way for us to decipher between a TEDx speaker, and an interesting person with an “okay” idea. What will the audience walk away knowing – that this person exists, or a new idea?

For example, if you were to describe a potential talk to a stranger and say more about the speaker (“this lady who runs that local charity,” or  “this guy who made this film”) rather than a specific idea, that’s a clue that you need to go back and dig deeper to find the idea.

We are looking for ideas that need to be defended – not something self-evident, but an interesting argument, perhaps with an antagonist.

The most successful speakers change perceptions with their talks. This could be anything from a scientific discovery that changes how you think about frogs to a philosophical argument that reshapes your notions of friendship.


5. Does my talk need to follow a specific format?

TEDx talks do not have a prescriptive approach or formula; this is what makes each one so unique. If you watch TEDx talks regularly, you will see that people give talks on a wide variety of topics and present them in lots of different ways. Often, the more creative, the better.

There are seven different types of talks that you might want to use as the basis of your own. Of course, you want your talk to be more than just a copy of someone else’s but watching other TEDx talks is a good place to start.

Take a look at the types of talks below. Do any seem like a good fit for your idea?

  • The big idea

The talks that make one or two very strong points, and it’s important. Examples: Bryan StevensonOnora O’NeillChimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  • The tech demo

An onstage look at some clever new invention that the speaker was a part of creating. Examples: Tan LeMarkus FischerRaffaello D’Andrea

  • The performance

Music, dance, magic, puppetry, or some other performance that will captivate your audience. Examples: Usman Riaz + Preston ReedArthur BenjaminPilobolus

  • The artist’s statement 

In these talks, artists showcase their art and explain the meaning and process behind what they create. Examples: Raghava KKLiu BolinAparna Rao

  • The ‘dazzle with wonder’

These talks are mainly about the amazement of science and discovery. Examples: Yoav Medan, Marcus ByrneJanna Levi

  • The small idea

These talks are not about one big, world-changing idea, but instead a very engaging take on an interesting topic. Examples: Mary RoachJoe SmithCharlie Todd

  • The ‘issue’ talk

These talks expose your audience to an issue that they may not otherwise know much about. Examples: Rodrigo CanalesLawrence LessigRose George


 6. Are there rules for giving a talk?

The few rules there are will all help you give the best talk possible.

Firstly, talks should last a maximum of 18 minutes, which might seem brief but it is plenty of time if you construct your talk carefully.

TEDx talks are not a sales pitch. You will naturally promote yourself and your idea through your inspiring talk but the guidelines are clear that TEDx is not an opportunity to sell products or services, or those of a company that you work for. The only exception is where a speaker has specifically been invited to give a powerful product demo, or to describe the ideas in their book, but even here the focus should still be on the technology and/or the ideas.

If, at the end of your talk, your audience is keen to learn more about you, they may approach you in the breaks on the day of TEDxWandsworth or contact you via social media.


7. I don’t have much public speaking experience. Can I still give a talk at TEDxWandsworth?

Anyone has the potential to be a great TEDx speaker. Having previous experience of speaking in public will certainly help but this does not mean you have to be a professional.

It’s great to hear of the many professional and semi-professional motivational speakers that have helped others to improve their lives, but after much trial and error we have found that our platform may not be suitable for such motivational speakers. At TEDxWandsworth our focus is very much driven by an idea or innovation rather than personal transformation.

Before you apply, it is worth considering whether you can spare the time required to perfect your talk. You’d be surprised to learn of the amount of work it takes to create a good talk. It can take up to 3-4 months with drafts (and breaks) to craft a talk.

In addition, the speaker will need to provide drafts to the TEDxWandsworth team at the agreed milestones, as well as taking part in a practice run in person (or via Skype). This helps us to track the progress of the talk and to provide constructive feedback. Being accepted as a TEDxWandsworth speaker is just the beginning of the process, and we work closely with all of the speakers right up until the day itself.

In some cases, a speaker may decide he/she is unable to continue due to the immense preparation of a TEDx talk. This is quite rare, and most of our speakers feel very well supported, it’s just something that we ask potential speakers to be aware of.


8. Does my talk need to be about Wandsworth?

It is not necessary for your talk to focus on Wandsworth or local issues. At TEDxWandsworth, our aim is simply to include as many speakers who live and work in and around the borough as possible.

We are looking for ideas that originate in our community but are widely relatable.


9. How do I apply?

This year we’ll be using Submittable, an on-line application system that streamlines the application process. We plan to open the application in mid-March and it will run until Friday 30 June at 23:59.

We will typically ask you for:

  • Outline of Proposed Talk (~ 500 words)
  • Cover Letter: (~1000 words)
  • Your favourite TED or TEDx talk
  • Why would you like to speak at TEDxWandsworth?
  • Upload files / links to videos or websites to support your application


10. What will happen if I am accepted as a speaker?

At TEDxWandsworth we are determined to help you deliver the very best talk you can. This reflects well on you and maintains the high quality of the TEDx brand.

We will coach you from the time you get accepted right up until the day of the TEDxWandsworth event. It is common for us to ask our speakers to write the whole of their speech out word for word in advance so that we can give you in-depth feedback.

This may sound like a daunting task! Certainly, it is no mean feat. However, our past speakers have commented on how valuable this process is as it helps to pinpoint your key messages and streamline your talk into a clear, cohesive flow.

In the days leading up to the TEDxWandsworth 2017 event you will need to spend a considerable amount of time rehearsing so that you know your talk off by heart. We invite our speakers to a dry run the day before the event so that they can practice giving their talk on the stage before the audience is present.

When the day comes, our best advice is to be confident that you know your talk, then just relax and enjoy it. No doubt it will feel like it’s over in a flash but giving a TEDx talk is a fantastic experience.


11. Will my talk be available to view online?

All TEDx talks are filmed as a matter of course and submitted to the TEDx YouTube channel. Your talk will also appear on the TEDxWandsworth website.

We use social media like Twitter and Facebook to promote talks further and notch up the views. This is a wonderful opportunity for your talk to be seen around the world and for your idea to spread even further.


12. Application process

Once an application has been received you will be sent an automated email acknowledging receipt of your application. The application review process may take several weeks so please be patient as we carefully review each application. Those who are successful will be contacted with a view to arrange a meeting or Skype call with the speaker curator.

Even though the deadline is end of June, we advise that you submit your application as soon as you are clear about your idea, as we will be making decisions throughout the submission period. So please do not leave your application till the last moment. This is to ensure that all speakers selected will have sufficient time to prepare for their TEDx Talk.